It’s taken a lot longer than expected for me to get this review out of the door. Not through laziness or any kind of writer’s block, but because of the sheer volume of content on offer for a game which only uses one button during gameplay. The developers, 10tons, were responsible for the fantastic Neon Chrome earlier this year, one of the greatest indie titles on the Xbox One. However, they were also responsible for last years middling Baseball Riot, and King Oddball is something of a spiritual successor to that. Only it’s good.
Is there a plot here? Possibly. Hidden somewhere deep within the games arcade and distinctly mobile feel may be a story of redemption through destruction, of man versus God, of the eternal struggle of despotic dictators vying for absolute power. Or, it may just be a game about a giant floating sphere of rock personified as a King, using his Gene Simmons impression to launch rocks at tanks over hundreds and hundreds of levels. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll say it’s the latter.
King Oddball starts simply enough, and never gets overly complex until you start digging through the bonus levels. Each stage is presented as a single, static screen, wherein tanks, helicopters and soldiers are lined up on various precarious structures, a la Angry Birds. Floating at the top centre of the screen is The King, and in the top corner are three rocks. The King lashes our his immense tongue, slobbers over a rock which becomes glued to it, and begins to swing it back and forth, sweeping over the level like The Pit and the Pendulum. At any point during this bizarre kaleidoscope of events you can tap your ‘A’ button to release the boulder from his tongue, and have it come crashing down on the obstacles below. Walls are bowled over, blocks are smashed, but most importantly the Tanks, choppers and peeps are destroyed. By taking them out, you unlock the next level on the world map, which progresses exactly as it does in 10tons similar title, Baseball Riot.
So far, so disposable, right? Well, that’s where things get interesting. After a couple of dozen levels, I unlocked a new game mode on the world map – one where you’re tossing grenades instead of rocks. And that mode had it’s own set of around twenty individual maps to blast through. A little further on, and I unlocked “The Second Quest”, around three dozen levels where you’re wielding unicorn horns instead of rocks, having to adjust what you’ve learnt with the games physics to acclimatise yourself to this bizarre new shape of projectile. There are unlockable levels for One Rock mode which plays exactly as it sounds, and Diamond mode: Your last rock is a diamond, and you must finish every stage with one left in your inventory. And if you’ve done all of that? Well, there’s always the hidden, unlockable Moustache World. This features all of the games stages, but mirrored and with an added level of difficulty.
Although the core gameplay never changes, and you play through all four hundred or so levels simply by tapping the ‘A’ button as I mentioned, the sheer volume of content on offer and the addictive nature of trying to get the best result on each level make for compelling play. The funky music and the bizarre graphical landscape are a draw too, and when you take into consideration 10tons are only asking four quid for the whole thing, it becomes a very attractive package for both achievement hunters and people looking for something they can drop in and out of when they don’t have much times on their hands.
And that, my friends, is what I’m going to base my rating on. And yes, I’m as surprised as anyone at the score. I just can’t justify any less; most importantly, it’s cheap and fun to play, but the ridiculous volume of levels to play through are the icing on the cake. Is it revolutionary? No. Is it ground breaking? No. But have I had a blast playing it? Yes. I really have.
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